The Importance of Imagination


If it weren’t so crazy… I’d backpack through India.

If it weren’t so crazy… I’d become an amazing cook.

If it weren’t so crazy… I’d buy an oceanfront home.  I would wake up before dawn and walk to my window to watch the sun rising from the sea.

If it weren’t so crazy… what would you do? 

“Happiness” is such an ephemeral thing.  It comes in many different forms.

Happiness can be something that lasts only a moment.  A memory; a piece of chocolate; a great scene from a movie.  It can be the presence of a certain person, situation, or condition in our lives.  It can be a song, a painting, shoes, football… shit, happiness can be anything.  The things that make people happy are as unique as fingerprints.

But when I say “I haven’t been this happy in a long time,”  I don’t refer to outer circumstances.  I don’t refer to an improved love life; a better job; or a new apartment.  There is one thing that has really changed for me during the course of this project.  One thing that has made me happy in the way I mean it here.

I am a happier, healthier, smarter, and more confident person because I’ve started to imagine a different future for myself.  I’ve started using my imagination.

Albert Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge.  In an interview with The Saturday Evening Post in 1929, he said:  “I believe in intuitions and inspirations.  I sometimes feel that I am right.  I do not know that I am… but I would have been surprised if I had been wrong.  I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.  Imagination is more important than knowledge.  Knowledge is limited.  Imagination encircles the world.”

ImageWhen I started this project, the hopes and plans I had for myself were either someone else’s –  or they weren’t known to me.  I had no concept of what I wanted to do with my life to live it in a meaningful way.  I continually asked myself the question, “What’s the point?”  And not in a morbid, Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” kind of way.  More of a “is this all there is?” kind of way.

So I began to read about happiness and how to find it.  What I found is that there are thousands of answers to that question.

I was told to work out more; eat better; face my fears; open myself to uncertainty; simplify my life; change my thought patterns; say affirmations; do visualizations; meditate…   All of the aforementioned elicit happiness.  They all evoke a sense of well-being.  But these are methods for relieving stress, for giving comfort.  Their effects are short-lived, and they don’t touch on the heart of the matter.  The kind of happiness I’ve found, the kind of happiness I talk about now, is in a whole different family than these effective, but temporary happiness inducers.

The kind of happiness I’ve felt lately, brings me to tears.  Because it’s peace, and it’s relieving.  It’s fleeting, of course, like all things, it sort of ebbs and flows.  Some days, I find myself on the negative train, struggling to jump off.  But, because I know what this feeling is like now, I’m not scared anymore.  I’m not scared of my own mind, I’m not scared of the future.  Not really.

Have you ever been to New York City?  Consider it’s skyscrapers.  Consider spaceships.  Consider the “Mona Lisa.”  Consider Pandora.  Consider fucking anything.  Someone first had to imagine that thing before it came to be.

And maybe you’re thinking, well, other people can imagine.  That’s not my job.  That’s not for me.  But it is.  Our imaginations allow us to plan our futures.  They enable us to dream, explore, experiment.

Through our imaginations, we put our goals in perspective and enhance our creativity.  Only through our imaginations can we bring our dreams to fruition.  And when you look back on your life at 80, what will you have wished you would have done?

It’s hard to cross the “But, that’s impossible” threshold.  But your beliefs, that you can’t do it; it’s too hard; too unrealistic – those are just thoughts, and a thought can be changed.

If you can imagine something, you can do it.  The only limitations you face are the ones you construct in your own mind.  I’m happy because I’ve seen this principle working in my own life.  And after setting out to find the elusive bluebird of happiness seven months ago – I think I’ve finally found it.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Imagination

  1. Hey Natalie, You are really moving along with your thought process. Congratulations on leaving the Law business. When you read my book, you will see i quit the Public Accounting business. Many parallels between my life and yours. Keep it up, and in a month or so, let’s get that interview going. Best, Brian.

    Brian Smith P. 760-917-2988 F. 760-943-7370

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